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Not Too Thankful for $3 Subway Fares

By Antonina Ayzenberg

Published: November 30th, 2016

If there is one thing for CUNY students to be most grateful for this Thanksgiving, it is the ability to get to and from classes every single day. The last thing students want to contend with is the raise in MTA fares taking effect in upcoming March 2017.

Throughout the past twenty years, fare has been raised by over 150 percent, from a $1.50  MetroCard fare in the nineties. The reality is that the hike is now going from $2.75 to a whopping three dollars. The New York Times has found that “The regularly scheduled increases are part of a financial rescue plan approved by the New York State Legislature in 2009. Officials at the authority argue that its policy is better than those of other transit systems…[and] fares and tolls paid for about half of the authority’s annual operating budget.”

“Why? It’s all political…people like the supervisors get lifetime medical,” said a nearby MTA ticket booth operator.

The answer comes down to the topic of raising taxes being applied to all economically functional public structures, such as the transportation authority. “Who’s going to pay for it, where are they going to get the money from for the equipment, new trains, and buses too, [including the new] fiber optic lines for the station?” the operator reasoned.

According to the Times, the MTA’s chief financial officer, Robert E. Foran, said “There is a direct connection between new service being provided,” he said, “and the request for a fare and toll increase.”

This correlation offered some resolution to my question: Why is the fare rising so suddenly? Although I haven’t been able to procure an answer as of yet, here is my journey into the bureaucracy of the MTA thus far.

I first found myself swiping that same exact underused, overpaid MetroCard ticket I had to purchase after sending in a request to replace a thirty-dollar MetroCard ticket stolen from me by a machine on Avenue M that deemed it irreparably damaged.

130 Livingston Street in Brooklyn was supposed to have the answers to all the transportation authority questions. There, I was advised by police security: “Nope, MTA NYCT. Go to 3 Stone Street, the Procurement Department, I believe it’s called.” I had been sent to the wrong building, and I hadn’t realized that no one really wants to talk about the rising MetroCard ticket prices two days before a major holiday.

Finally, at the Stone Street City Transportation Authority, the booth workers didn’t seem to have a clue why I was there. I had just spent $8.25 on three trips which didn’t even have a real conclusion to their purpose, but the booth person dialed a few phone numbers and handed me a piece of recycled white paper with a phone number on it.

I called the phone number and a young female voice referred an email address for my need to interview—a man named Kevin Ortiz—which brought me to my next step. Determined to obtain an interview and figure out exactly how New Yorkers are expected to pay this significant ticket fare in a few months, I sent an email with few words, signing off: “I am waiting for your response kindly…Happy Thanksgiving.”

New York City upper tier members of power in the transportation authority don’t have to answer to any questions, and we the people ultimately have no power over the amount of money we pay to get from one place to another in The Big Apple. I have yet to hear a response from you, Mr. Ortiz. But until then, it’s onto the next story.

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